Heaven (Heaven, #1)

ISBN: 0689822901
ISBN 13: 9780689822902
By: Angela Johnson John Jude Palencar

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African American Battle Of The Books Currently Reading Fiction Realistic Fiction Series Teen To Read Ya Young Adult

About this book

Marley has lived in Heaven since she was two years old, when her mother found a postcard postmarked HEAVEN, OH on a park bench and decided that was where she wanted to raise her family. And for twelve years, Marley's hometown has lived up to its name. She lives in a house by the river, has loving parents, a funny younger brother, good friends, and receives frequent letters from her mysterious Uncle Jack. Then one day a letter arrives form Alabama, and Marley's life is turned upside down. Marley doesn't even know who she is anymore -- but where can she go for answers, when she's been deceived by the very people she should be able to trust the most?

Reader's Thoughts

Kayna Olsen

Marley is 14 and has a wonderful life in Heaven. Heaven, Ohio that is; she is quite alive. She loves her Momma and Pops and even her little brother Butchy. Marley exchanges letters with her Uncle Jack frequently while wiring him money through the local Washington Mutual. Even though she writes him so much she has never seen him except for when she was really little. One day, as a result of churches being burned to the ground, Marley learns the truth about everyone; her Uncle Jack, Momma, Pops, and the truth she never knew about herself.This was a well written story that tells about a young girl discovering what it is that really matters and the people that make up a family. I really liked how everything was handled and presented in this novel. Marley was confused but she learned a lot about trusting people and not letting one instant change your view of them for ever. I got a little bit confused when the truth came out almost like I had missed something and who they were talking about, but I pretty quickly figured it out.

Destinee Tate

This book was really good it was one of those books you kind of have to put the pieces together to make the book make since like how the box represents her identity.


I actually listened to this book and I missed a few key words, as a result I listend to two of the cds twice. The second time through I realized Johnson was using some of her characters from "The First Part Last".


I liked this book, it reflected some of the lives I see at the home for kids that I go to, to serve. Some of them dont know who they or their real parents are. I really liked the part of the book where there is a tornado, and Marley finds out she was adopted. I think it is kind of ironic that there is a real storm, and then Marley life storm begins.

Kenzie Keppner

This was a pretty good coming of age book. It was just very sweet and a nice read. I loved the main character Marley. She really thought very deeply for her age and I guess when you find out something like your parents really are not your parents, then you kind of have to grow up quickly. She was very mature for her age and I felt like she already had a good understanding of life. Although I have not read "The First Part Last" I know Bobby and Feather are from that book. I want to read that book now to find out who Feather's mother was!Violence: 1- No violence, it was very mellow and sweet.Language: 1- I think the main character is still a bit young to swear a whole lot, but I don't remember there being any swear words.Drugs/Alcohol: 1- No drugs or alcohol. Like I said a very mellow book.Sex: 1- I don't believe Bobby is very old but he has a daughter. That's about the extent.

Bobby Crew

This book is about 14-year-old Marley, who lives in a small town called Heaven She has loving friends, and a loving family, and an uncle Jack who writes her all the time, even though she hasn't seen him since she was a baby. Soon she finds out that her family has been lying to her, and that her mother and father aren't her real parents, but Jack is actually her father.I really liked this book, it was a quick easy read, and kind of a feel good book. I really loved all of the characters.


Marley has lived in Heaven since she was 2 years old with her mom, her dad and her brother Butchy. She writes to her Uncle Jack who travels around the country with his dog Boy, and whom she has never met, at least that she can remember. Suddenly her life is turned upside down. A letter arrives from Alabama and Marley learns that not only are her parents not her parents but Marley is not her name. Confused Marley goes to seek answers,but she doesn't know where to go as those that she trusted and thought she could go to have been lying to her the most. Marley's best friend Shoogy tries to help her as best as she can, even though Shoogy has enough of her own problems with her perfect family and she being the outcast. Marley also seeks guidance from Bobby, the boy who recently moved to Heaven from New York with his daughter Feather to raise her right, but Bobby is young and confused himself at times with life, though he tries his best to raise his daughter and help out Marley as only he can.This was a well written book by Angela Johnson. The writing was a little confusing at times with the tense or wording that the author was trying to convey, but overall was a great read.

Linda Lipko

When 12 year old Marley discovers that she is adopted, her perception of who she is and the parents who raised her is turned upside down.Learning that her uncle is her biological father, she struggles to define truth.This book is well written and the characters are all very likeable. I didn't feel the issues were depicted as in depth as they should/could have been.


A fast, good read. My kids really like this one, especially those who also read First Part Last. They like knowing that Feather and her dad are alright. As usual, Johnson manages to pack quite a punch in a fairly short book. She had me crying!

Kelli Stephenson

This book was highly discussed and praised in my recent children's literature class, so I gave it a try. I would almost give it 3 stars because it was short, if it had been longer it would have gotten really boring. If your middle schooler ever forgets to do a book report, this is like a 2-3 hour read (it does say "hell" 3-4 times). It was interesting, but nothing really captivating or jaw dropping.


Marley is a fourteen-year-old girl who lives with her parents and older brother in Heaven, Ohio, a small town where everyone gets along and there isn't any crime. She hangs out with a former beauty queen who turned self-abusive because of the pressure, and a dreadlocked single dad from New York. She babysits his daughter, Feather, and learns about life from him and her friend Shoogy, the former beauty queen. Marley finds out that she's adopted, and her world turns upside-down. This book talks a lot about what makes a family as Marley tries to figure out who her family really is. I loved learning along with Marley and Johnson is wonderful at drawing the reader in to Marley's struggle.


Has a really good message about what family means. A lot of love in this book. It read a bit like a (longer) short story - not a lot of action, but plenty of character change.

Shally Clark

Copyright: 1998Number of pages: 138Summary:Marley lives an ordinary life in Heaven, OH with two parents who love her, a little brother she gets along with best friends she spends a lot of time with and other neighbors and family that she loves. She also has an uncle Jack who she has not seen since right after her birth. She feels likes everything in her life is great until she finds out news that flips her world upside down. This book is about how Marley, has to find stability in the midst of confusion and decide as a 14-year-old, how she is going to live the rest of her life.My reaction to the book:I thought is was a good book. Because of its length it couldn't be as developed as I usually like in books. The story was heart warming but not something I would need to read again. It did teach great valuable lessons about family, personal strength and love.


This was such a sensitive and delicate little novel that I checked several times to see if I was actually reading one of Jacqueline Woodson's best.Fourteen-year-old Marley lives an almost idyllic existence in the little town of Heaven. Her parents love her, she gets along with her brother (mostly), and she's built a family of friends of all ages who watch out for her. Plus, there are the letters from Uncle Jack, who she's never met, but who writes her regularly and tells her about his life on the road and his dog named Boy. When Marley learns that everything about her family isn't the way it seems, it forces her to re-examine life and her place in it.This is a novel that, despite its brevity, does not go for easy answers or one-dimensional characters. Everyone has a depth to them. Marley's voice feels authentic; while she is clearly intelligent and sensitive, she is also fourteen and confused, and it comes through beautifully. I loved this book.


Marley has lived in Heaven, Ohio since she was two years old. She has Momma and Pops and her brother, and her friends Bobby and Shoogy, and her Uncle Jack who writes her letters from all over the country. But when she learns that Momma and Pops are actually her aunt and uncle, and the Uncle Jack that she has been writing to and receiving letters from for 10 years is actually her father, she has to take a look at her life and decide if this new information really changes things.This was a happy, read-in-an-hour-on-a-Sunday-afternoon kind of book. It was thoughtful, and I was intrigued by the character Shoogy, as well as Bobby and his daughter Feather. It wasn't plot-driven, but character driven, but I left with a generally peaceful feeling. Not particularly thought-provoking, but maybe it would have more meaning to me if I'd been adopted and not known it for most of my life.

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